Byzantium – Byzantium (1972)

Byzantium is the debut album by the namesake English quartet, released in 1972 on A&M. Across the album’s eight tracks — mostly written by manager Jamie Rubinstein — the young members prove competent on a range of sundry instruments.

The scratching licks and fold-out vocal refrain of “What Is Happening” segues into the standstill strum and valley-wide harmonies of “I Am a Stranger to My Life,” which breaks to a lavish, swinging middle. Minutes later, the encroaching scales of “Baby I Can Hear You Calling Me” make for the most voluminous intensity on the record. Other highlights include the rollicking, debonair swagger of “Lady Friend” and the layered buildup and climax of the generously timed Jankel original “Why or Maybe It’s Because.”

A1. What Is Happening?
A2. I Am a Stranger to My Life
A3. Come Fair One
A4. Baby I Can Hear You Calling Me
B1. Trade Wind
B2. Into the Country
B3. Lady Friend
B4. Why or Maybe It’s Because

Chas Jankel – electric guitar, vocals (A1–B1, B3), composition (B4)
Jamie Rubinstein – acoustic guitar (A3), composition (A1–A4, B2–B3)
Nico Ramsden – electric guitar, vocals (A1, A4, B1), slide guitar (A3), piano/organ (B2), percussion(B4)
Robin Lamble – bass, vocals (A2–A3, B3–B4), violin (B2), composition (B1)
Stephen Corduner – drums, percussion

Robin Sylvester – string/brass arrangements
Alan Skidmore – tenor saxophone (B3)
Frank Riccotti – timpani (B4)
Derek Wadsworth/Roy Young’s Brass Section – brass
Stuart Taylor – production
Roy Thomas Baker – engineer

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